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KEEPING AN OPEN MIND
For over a decade now, I’ve been going to Open House London, which is the weekend in September where hundreds of buildings are open around London, some of which you don’t normally get access to. Last year, I was lucky enough to write about it for Time Magazine and so this year I got to go to the press launch, which was held at the stunning Royal Courts of Justice on Fleet Street. I am running a few weeks behind on the blog because the event was held in the middle of September but because my West Country trip in the first half of September made for such amazing blog fodder, I am posting about something that happened almost a month ago. Also, apart from the West Country trip, I have been fairly busy juggling other stuff. The launch had BBC London presenter Robert Elms, a longtime cheerleader of London and its charms, Open House Chief Executive Victoria Thornton and former MP for London Nick Raynsford, all making brief speeches about Open House. As anyone who has read this blog for a long time knows, Open House continues to be one of my favourite weekends of the year. It continues to be an amazing way to connect with the city, its architecture and its history. I am planning a book relating to Open House but I am not going to say too much in case it doesn’t come off (as I’ve had similar projects that seemed a dead cert turn to dust in time) but here are a few photos that I took at the launch. I’ll be following up with a post on the weekend itself…



LOOKING BACK
With freelance work very quiet at the minute, especially subbing, I’ve been going through my old cuttings and contacts list in an attempt to generate some more work. The weird thing is that sometimes, when you’ve been writing for quite a while, you almost forget who you’ve written for. So from my cuttings archives, here is a piece I wrote for Variety about Elizabeth: The Golden Age, the King Kong feature I did for The Times back in 2005 and a piece I wrote last September for Time Magazine about Openhouse London…
























A BLATANT REGARD FOR HISTORY PART ONE
So this is my first post about this year’s Open House London, which took place last weekend (Sept 20-21st 2008). Amazingly, the weather was spectacular: bright blue sky and quite warm. We had a shitty August so it wasn’t guaranteed that it would be nice. As with other years, I wanted to go places I’d not been to before so Saturday I decided to go to the Wimbledon Windmill and the Banqueting House on Whitehall. I’d never seen a windmill in the flesh before and I’d also heard that the Banqueting House was pretty spectacular so both seemed like interesting picks. It took forever to get to the Windmill: myself and my mate Andy drove towards Hammersmith and all the way down Fulham Palace Road and across Putney Bridge and the traffic was terrible until we got the other side of Putney. This is the disadvantage of picking places miles from home. But when we got to the Windmill, it was pretty interesting. A post mill built in 1817, it’s not in use now and is a museum and it was quite something to climb up the rickety stairs to the centre of the windmill. But what was even nicer was the fact that it sat on the edge of Wimbldeon Common. We didn’t see any wombles (joke for my English readers) but it was truly a beautiful place with a lake/ large pond a few minutes walk from the Windmill. Apart from a plane passing overhead every two minutes (it’s on the flight path from Heathrow) you could have almost been in the country. It was a shame to leave the Common and it made us realise how much beauty there is in London. Being a North Londoner, I didn’t know about Wimbledon Common and this is part of what Open House is about…
So we headed north of the river through Victoria towards Whitehall. The Banqueting Hall is the only remaining part of the Palace of Whitehall, built and designed by Inigo Jones around 1622 and I had never seen it so I thought ‘Why not?’ We found somewhere to park and walked across the Mall towards it, through Horse Guards (another fabulous building that I still haven’t seen inside because the queues are always huge) and we had to wait to cross Whitehall because there was a parade from Northern Ireland going across. I’m not sure what the parade was for but I did get some great shots of people in colourful regalia. But we made it after a short wait and went inside. The Banqueting House is elegant, magnificent and well worth a visit with its high walls and exquisite ceiling. Here are some photos from Saturday. I did even more on my own on Sunday but that’s for another post…

TIME FOR OPEN HOUSE
Open House is an event I’ve been going to for about a decade now. It takes place in the third weekend in September each year and it opens up buildings you don’t normally have access to around the city. So I’ve gotten to write something about it for this week’s Time Magazine, cover dated 1st September 2008. You can also check it out online at http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1834432,00.html
This is the third thing I’ve written for Time since 2006 (the other two pieces were a Mervyn Peake feature and a review of a book of amazing aerial photos of archaeological sites) and it’s rather nice to have this to add my cuttings and my portfolio…
www.openhouse.org.uk